'Huge for me tonight and I think there is going to be a lot more'.
It was a career-best start to the Monster Energy Supercross season for RJ Hampshire, the 250SX West title-threat securing P2 in the main event at Anaheim’s opening round.
Hampshire displayed immense pace from the onset of the opener, qualifying fourth fastest and keeping a charging Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) at bay to take the first heat race victory of the year.
After tangling with Austin Forkner (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) at the start of the main event, the number 24 worked his way forwards to ultimately finish runner-up to Lawrence, 5.259s from the lead.
“I’ve never been in a situation where I could see the leader at round one, so I mean that was kind of just where I was,” Hampshire said. “I wanted to get out of here healthy and be on the box, so yeah, with the track that we had tonight it was more just clicking off your laps and that is what I did.
“I mean my start in the main event wasn’t great, but I was like, ‘heck let’s get to this main event and do what I can do’, not you know focus on anyone besides myself.”
It was the first time Hampshire has stood on the podium to commence a Supercross season, also marking a step forward from his opening round last year where he debuted the all-new FC 250 in 250SX East to finish fifth at Minneapolis. He’s anticipating further improvements to come.
“We’ve got a really good group and I think there is love for all of us,” continued Hampshire. “From management to our mechanics, I don’t think is there is one guy who doesn’t get along on our team.
“I really can’t say enough good things about it, last year was very tough and not just from the riders’ side, but the management side also. That got thrown into something really couldn’t control or we didn’t have options to go to, so it was like, ‘look, us riders just show up and do the best that we can and you know there’s going to be a change’.
“That’s a pretty big risk that you are taking. I signed my extension deal last year whenever the bike was not where I wanted it to be, just because I knew that I had to trust that you know Austria is going to figure this thing out. We did it, that was huge for me tonight and I think there is going to be a lot more, we do have some other things coming. Just yeah, keep building and progressing and you know hopefully we are in this championship fight.”
Hampshire trails red plate-holder Lawrence by three points as the series moves to Oakland this Saturday for round two.